Site Unseen

Uncovering an intriguing house by two modernist architects above Moncks Bay in Ōtautahi.

Site Unseen

Uncovering an intriguing house by two modernist architects above Moncks Bay in Ōtautahi.

Expatriate architect Giles Reid has lived in London for a couple of decades, but his affection for forgotten modernist buildings in Aotearoa remains undinted. One of the country’s biggest enthusiasts for the work of Claude Megson, he’s produced several books on under-
appreciated buildings, including a series of monographs. 

The fourth in the series is The Duncraft House, produced with David Straight, and features a house in Moncks Bay, Ōtautahi – a house with an intriguing history. It is, in fact, the work of two architects – Nicholas Kennedy, who died in 1977 aged just 33, and Ian Bisman, who took over the project after he became too ill to continue. 

They met at Warren & Mahoney in the late 1960s, when the firm was at the centre of what later became known as the Christchurch Style. “The house bears testament to that legacy,” says Reid, ”but it also has a more relaxed, even West Coast American feel.”

Intriguingly, Kennedy’s design was, in fact, a rework of an existing house built in the 1960s – a simple one-bedroom house with a single garage, weatherboard cladding and a galvanised iron roof. John and Wendy Duncraft purchased the place in 1971, and commissioned Kennedy to design a large extension, which he did in 1974.

The house continued to evolve over more than a decade, with extensions and work continuing until 1986 and a garage being added in 1990. The house is “in immaculate condition”, says Reid, and now owned by a local architect and her partner. “Despite widespread interest in this period, it had never been published,” says Reid, of the house. Until now.

The Duncraft House - $30

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